Now That's a Post Title for You: "OUT: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. IN: The Moon Is a Grateful Urinal."

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

From Prof. Glenn Reynolds (InstaPundit), who has had nearly 20 years of experience composing titles—read his (short) post, and follow the link, to see how it actually makes sense.

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  1. Such an all-natural solution would be good for the environment.

  2. Not too surprised Eugene would find this an apt headline, considering last night.

  3. I think this was an April Fools joke.

    I’d like to see the chemistry, as the only compound I can think of making from lunar soil, other than adobe, is some form of Portland Cement — which uric acid (like any acid) will dissolve. (Concrete is essentially cooked limestone, it is quite basic.)

    While concrete setting is an exothermic reaction (i.e. gives off heat). so much that the Hoover Dam had to have a massive refrigeration plant to prevent it from overheating, you are talking extreme temperatures here, and liquid water would freeze (and expand inside) the wet concrete (or even mud), shattering it.

    Remember that unlike the Pueblos, this has to be a pressure vessel as folk need to remove their space suits to eat, use toilet, etc. While Earth has about 15 PSI and about 80% Nitrogen, after Apollo 1, NASA used 100% Oxygen at 5 PSI — that’s still a lot of pressure if you are talking a structure of any size.

    Looking at the nuke damage charts — and remember this is with 15PSI ambient pressure, not zero like on the moon, a 5PSI overpressure corresponds to a 163 MPH wind — almost all structures will collapse — most residential ones will collapse at just a 2 PSI overpressure, 1 PSI will shatter windows.

    Remember that it’s 5 pounds for EVERY square inch, that starts adding up really fast…

    While you can use electricity to break water down into Hydrogen and Oxygen, and then dispose of the Hydrogen so you have Oxygen to breathe (like our nuke subs do), this is not an unlimited resource. Hence you not only have to worry about a catastrophic leak but the cumulative effect of a lot of little ones.

    Furthermore, unreinforced concrete has a great deal of compressive strength (holding weight up off the ground) but very little shear strength, which is why it does so poorly in an earthquake. Think the infamous I-880 in San Fransisco during the earthquake back in the 1990s — the concrete held up the vertical load of the roadway without difficulty, but failed when wiggled by the earthquake.

    While I’m not an engineer, I can’t think of how you could possibly design a concrete structure to be a pressure vessel. And as to meteorites, concrete also doesn’t do well with sudden impacts (think jackhammer) and a meteorite would likely shatter it. Steel reinforcing rods help (in a lot of ways) but they are quite heavy.

    Weight is your biggest issue, and if I were to build something on the moon, I’d look at either an aluminum alloy or composites — which you could use to make a pressure vessel.

  4. How do you solve a problem like urea?

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